Writing on the Wall by Gunnar Staalesen – Varg Veum is almost 50. He has been a private investigator in
for a long time. Bergen, Norway
He is intrigued when a local member of the judiciary is found dead in a downtown hotel dressed in women’s lingerie. (In real life there was a former member of the
judiciary who gained unwanted attention partially because of young men joining him in the “boom-boom” room of another man’s basement.) Saskatchewan
When Sigurd, the mother of Torild, hires him to find her 16 year old daughter who has not been home for a week he undertakes the job without great enthusiasm. Veum is far from certain that she needs to be found. Her parents have recently separated and Torild is rebellious.
Sigurd is saddened to realize that she can barely provide Veum with the names of any friends of Torild. She has been shut out of her daughter’s life.
Following up Sigurd’s information, Veum talks to a pair of Torild’s friends who are equally sullen and uncommunicative about Torild.
Veum identifies an arcade, Jimmy’s, as a teenage hangout where Torild has spent time with other teenagers.
His investigation shifts dramatically when Torild is found dead near a road on the edge of
. The pretty young girl has been asphyxiated. Bergen
While the police take over the investigation Veum cannot let go the death of the girl and starts probing her activities in the last few months of her life.
What he finds made the book difficult to read for me and hard to describe with out spoiling the book. It is sufficient to say
teenagers are being exploited. What has happened to Torild is all too credible. Bergen
Neither the teenagers nor adults come out well in the book.
The title will remain with me. Veum is told:
Children are the writing on the wall for us ……
If I had not liked Veum, who has a nice self-deprecating personality, I am not sure I would have finished the book. The story was grim and the resolution inevitable.
I expect to read another in the series in the hope not all of them have so bleak a plot. My next post will feature the statue of Varg Veum that has been put up in
. (July 4/12) Bergen